Board of Directors
Thomas Strewler is a retired teacher. During his career he taught special education working with learning disabilities; he subsequently moved into the classroom. He served and led numerous committees examining curriculum, leadership, assessment, technology, professional development, and instructional strategies. Thomas received a B.A. in Elementary Education at the University of Minnesota, a M.A. in Special Education from St. Cloud State University, and a M.S.E. in Educational Administration from University of Wisconsin-Superior. Thomas was diagnosed with dyslexia and was remediated through Orton-Gillingham many years ago. Mr. Strewler has received training in Orton-Gillingham is working with dyslexic individuals.
Brian Pettinger is a Finance MBA with 20+ years experience in Retail, Banking and Healthcare industries. Variety of diverse leadership experiences crossing Finance and Human Resources demonstrate my ability to successfully move ideas forward and create amazing outcomes in a large business environment. Experiences specializing in planning & analysis, treasury services, change management and technology integration.
Jennifer Bennett, M.S., is a Licensed Psychologist who focuses her work on neuropsychological and educational assessment, including diagnostic testing for dyslexia. At BrainWorks, P.A., her private practice, she conducts comprehensive evaluations with people ages 5-100 who are experiencing difficulties related to learning, information processing, and cognitive development. In addition to dyslexia, Jennifer’s areas of expertise include dysgraphia, dyscalculia, attention disorders, nonverbal LD, auditory processing difficulties, Autism Spectrum Disorders including Asperger’s Syndrome, and other neuropsychological concerns that affect thinking, learning, and communication. Jennifer attended Gustavus Adolphus College for her undergraduate studies and then moved on to North Dakota State University, where she earned her graduate degree in Clinical Psychology. Since obtaining her professional license in 1995, she has provided psychological assessment services at the University of Minnesota Medical School Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (both inpatient and outpatient settings), Learning and Language Specialists, and now at BrainWorks, P.A. She has been on the Board of Directors for the IDA Upper Midwest Branch since January 2014.
Member at Large
Donna Burns is a strategist and product marketer who has led teams to collaboratively build alignment around a mission. She held management positions at Pillsbury and Cargill in previous years and is currently Director of Product Management for the GED Testing Service. Donna has had a very personal experience with dyslexia as her youngest child has multiple learning disabilities including dyslexia. Since 2008, Donna has volunteered as Chairman of the Georgetown University Alumni Interviewing Committee for Minnesota. She holds a BS from Georgetown University in Linguistics and an MBA from New York University Stern. In her leisure time, Donna enjoys international travel and photography. She is thrilled to be working in the education industry and looks forward to using her personal and professional experience to help IDA Upper Midwest Branch in its endeavor to support students, families and educators.
Sue Hegland has been engaged in learning about dyslexia and the science of reading since discovering that her son is dyslexic when he was a fifth grader. She is passionate about helping parents and teachers develop knowledge and understanding about these topics so that all children can become skilled readers, writers, and learners. She works as an independent tutor, teaching students to understand and use written language. Sue has professional experience in research, writing, training and instructional design, and has been a homeschooling parent. Sue joined the board of IDA Upper Midwest Branch in June of 2012, and serves as Vice President of the branch. She also serves as Vice President of the Board of Education for the Brandon Valley School District in South Dakota.
Member at Large
Dr. Donna M. Johnson is an assistant professor of education at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota. She loves reading and learning and is zealous about introducing both children and university students to the world of books and the pursuit of knowledge. Her undergraduate degree in elementary education is from Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minnesota. While earning her master’s degree in special education at Minnesota State University Mankato, she was trained in Orton-Gillingham and has used (and continues to use) this method to instruct many emergent and struggling readers. Her educational doctorate is from the University of South Dakota. During her 40-year career, Dr. Johnson has taught in public and private K-12 schools in Minnesota and South Dakota in both special and general education classrooms. She also homeschooled her three daughters. Dr. Johnson has presented at state and national conferences for the Council of Learning Disabilities (CLD), the Learning Disabilities Association (LDA), and the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). Before joining the board of IDA Upper Midwest Branch, she served on the board of the South Dakota Learning Disabilities Association and, with her husband, on the board of the Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators and the Hillsdale College Parents Board. Besides reading, her interests include travel, baking, and antiques.
Member at Large
Kevin Martin is currently a Finance Director for Target Corporation based in Minneapolis, MN. He has been at Target now for eight years in various finance roles with the last four years being in various leadership positions. Prior to Target, Kevin completed his Masters of Business Administration at The Ohio State University followed by three years at L Brands in various finance roles, both located in Columbus, Ohio. Serving as a board member for the Upper Midwest Branch of the International Dyslexia Association will be Kevin’s first experience serving on a non-profit board but he is deeply drawn towards the mission statement of IDA and ensuring that all people have a right to achieve their full potential by strengthening individual learning abilities which make people different.
Robin Rovick is a Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT) and academic tutor utilizing the Orton-Gillingham approach in her work with children and adults that struggle with reading and writing challenges. She is a Level IV trained OG specialist with thousands of hours of tutoring experience, and has advanced training in several evidence-based remediation programs including the Wilson Reading System. Robin is a current board member and Past Vice-President of the IDA Upper Midwest Branch and a board member of Orton-Gillingham of MN (OGM), two non-profit organizations dedicated to supporting individuals with dyslexia and related language-based learning disorders, and training teachers, parents, and tutors in the Orton-Gillingham approach. She has a private tutoring practice and also tutors at Groves Academy through their outreach program. Robin is passionate about helping families navigate through the journey of dyslexia and other reading disabilities, as well as supporting other professions in providing effective reading and writing instruction to students dealing with reading, spelling, and writing deficiencies.
Member at Large
Cindy Russell has been involved as a member, staff member, and since 2010 as Executive Director of The Reading Center/Dyslexia Institute of Minnesota. She has 26 years of experience in non-profit management, fundraising and programming. As a parent of three children with dyslexia, she has gained a great deal of practical experience.
Member at Large
Sara Smit Juran is a Director in Enterprise Strategy at Target where she leads the Enterprise Business Architecture for all Guest-focused Capabilities by driving strategic planning and prioritization ensuring alignment to enterprise strategic goals. Sara has been in various roles in her 11+ years at Target including finance, accounting and security intel teams. Sara spends her time outside of work with her husband and two children (5 & 2), running, attending concerts and trying new restaurants with friends. She is passionate about raising awareness and helping parents, teachers & kids learn and understand how to deal with different aspects of parenting including disabilities. As a parent with a child that struggles with sensory processing, I have learned that education is critical. It is important for parents to know they aren’t alone, find teachers that understand or can learn how the child learns best and teach family and friends.
Nominating Committee Chair
Stephanie Tracy joined the board in June 2013. After 7 years of teaching at Groves Academy, she saw the impact explicit reading instruction had on children with dyslexia. Upon seeing the success that can be brought into the lives of these children, she has been enthusiastically devoted to helping bring such instruction to as many children as can be reached. She will be joining Prodeo Academy, a charter school, in the fall of 2014.
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